Hey vociferous. My post made it sound like I did several centuries in my first year of racing, but that is not the case. I have been riding for six years and have done several centuries over the years. Last year was my first year of racing, but I also amped up the centuries and, particularly the climbing. I did a timed century with 7,500 feet, which I had done the year before, but wanted to do it way better. I did a lot of climbing to train for it, and other centuries to lead up to it. And I DID do it way faster. :)
I was riding better than I ever had when my period came in July and I had my first adrenal crash, only I didn't know that's what it was. I thought it was anemia. In addition to the training on the bike, I was also losing weight so I could climb better. I would often skip meals. I think these two things, added to the fact that I already unknowingly had mild hypothyroidism, are the primary factors in my adrenal fatigue.
Since I thought it was anemia, per a coach and my sister who is a nurse, (didn't see a doctor cause I don't have insurance), I started taking iron, eating more and backed off of the bike (didn't really have a choice in that, cause my body wouldn't "go"!) I started feeling "mostly" better after about a month. I started slowly building up on the bike, but couldn't really get serious about training until January and started doing longer rides. In retrospect, I recall doing my first handful of longer distance rides (50-65 miles) and being so frustrated that I would always seem to lose momentum at about 40 miles. I just bonked and couldn't figure out what was going on. I decided I just needed to focus on shorter and faster, which kind of seemed more fun to me anyway. I also started working on weight loss again, which meant skipping meals again. I was doing fine with the shorter and faster until my period came in March and adrenals crashed again.
So, yeah, I have wondered if once I recover, if I may have to give up long endurance rides, but hoping I can at least stick with the shorter and faster. Still wondering how one knows their body is ready and is doing okay with whatever load you are putting on it. As for skipping meals, that won't ever happen again. I'm perfectly happy eating every two to three hours and know I will always need to do that. And now that I know I have this, I am getting the supplements and nutrients my body needs, changing my diet, etc.
I was just on my cycling forum, where I asked this same question. There was one main person who said she has had hypothyroidism and AF and she races. She did mention that she usually takes three weeks to build up to a race and a week for recovery, but she's thinking she needs to shorten it to two weeks of build up. So, definitely listening to your body is a big part of it and figuring out what works for you. We may have to adjust our expectations, but I think it's realistic to think I can ride strong again if I'm careful, and you can run again. :)
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